By Vicky Diloné
Mother Angelica is my hero. It’s a name anyone who works in media should know. Although small and unassuming, “she was the only woman in television history to found and lead a cable network,” says her biographer Raymond Arroyo. But before she was broadcasting to millions in their home, she was just a small girl from a bad part of town in Canton, Ohio. I will give a trigger warning; Angelica’s early life was not a happy one. There is mention of child neglect and suicide in this post; proceed with caution.
Before Angelica There was Rita
Before Mother Angelica entered religious life, she was Rita Rizzo, a tough girl with a big attitude and bigger heart. Born on April 20, 1923 in Canton, Ohio, Rizzo had everything stacked against her. By all odds she should have died in the poverty she was born into. Her grandparents were Italian immigrants, her parents divorced, and even the Catholic nuns in her school seemed to look down on her. After her mother divorced her deadbeat father, they were left with only each other. Her mother, Mae Francis, fell into depression and Rizzo became her emotional rock at a young age. Between her mother’s breakdowns, rat-infested living conditions, and her own health problems, Rizzo never had a real childhood.